Learning from My (Many) Mistakes / by Richard Something

I was the kind of kid who wanted to be a magician when I grew up. I'm pretty sure that this one thing explains every problem I've had in my life up to this point. This is an example of a non-film related mistake I've made. This blog post, however, is not about my whole life, but is instead about making a movie. So how about we take a look at some film related mistakes? Let's see: 

Not planning enough. Flying by the seat of my pants. Working ten to twelve hours a day at my regular job while shooting and editing a fifty minute movie in an arbitrary three month time limit that I put in place for no real reason. Setting up the camera and moving the lights and ordering lunch and handing out the release forms and ordering dinner and driving all the equipment to and from sets and acting as the producer and the director and the cinematographer and the line producer and the production assistant all at the same time. Taking on too much. Way too much. 

These mistakes are all well and good, if pretty stressful, and did not stop us from making funny and interesting movies. But they did stop us from making most of our short films as good as they could be, something I’m determined not to repeat with Hell.


A Larger Crew

In the past, the crew has often consisted of me, someone on sound, and maybe one other person. This worked fine, and was occasionally even reasonable, on our very smallest movies, but left us completely short handed on larger productions. 

For Hell we have two directors (the handsome and talented George Sukara is directing along with me), a Line Producer to manage the crew, an Assistant Director to help set up shots, someone on sound, someone on lights, and one or more production assistants helping out where needed. We’ll always have a crew three to five times the size of what we’ve had on previous shoots. 


 George tells one of the actors that he'd like to see them do more acting. 

George tells one of the actors that he'd like to see them do more acting. 

Acting is not magic. Good actors don't show up on set or on stage and just start blowing you away with an incredible interpretation of something they just read. At least not usually. 

This is, however, the way I treated it in the past. A quick read through and discussion of the character a week or two before shooting, then the actor shows up to set and acts. This wasn't a disaster since you can do lots of takes for each scene, but an actor who fully understands what's expected of them before we film a scene is going to do a much better job than one who is figuring things out while we're shooting.  

In spite of this, I think one of the best parts of my past movies is that the acting in them is uniformly good. With rare exception, no one on camera seems to be straining at playing their character. Part of that is writing characters directly for specific people and part of it is just knowing a lot of talented, funny people.   

Now we've added in-depth rehearsals of every scene. If the acting was very good before, it's going to be very gooder this time around.  

More Preparation

We've been writing the script for well over two years. Plus we're endeavoring to lock down all locations two months in advance of shooting at those locations, while getting wardrobe and props and everything else set a month in advance of each scene. As you may have guessed from what I said above, we've never previously planned this far ahead.  

Ultimately what I'm trying to say is that I used to be a dumber person, but now I'm a less dumb person. We're about to make our best movie ever as a result of that improvement.